In 1981, while visiting Egypt for a consulting assignment with USAID, I purchased the old Cairo edition of the massive dictionary Tāj al-‘Arūs of Murtaḍā al-Zabīdī (d. 1790). This was in about 10 large and heavy volumes. For it and a few other books I bought a cheap suitcase and paid the porter who carried it from the taxi to the airline desk a large baksheesh. When I arrived back in New York, as I was entering the door of our home, the suitcase burst open and Tāj al-‘Arūs was spread on the floor.

That was some 35 years ago, but now I have pdf files of the entire modern Kuwaiti edition courtesy of While a scholar of Arabic used to either buy the physical book (I purchased a set of Lisān al-‘Arab in Baghdad in 1979) or be based near a major library (I had the advantage of the Oriental Room of the New York Public Library), now all it takes is a click of a mouse and many megabytes of space to build up a library of Arabic dictionaries.

For those who are looking for Arabic dictionaries available online or in pdf format, here is a list. Others are welcome to suggest sources they know.

Online Arabic Dictionaries

• The first place to go for classical Arabic is al-Bāḥith al-‘Arabī (, which is searchable by word in Arabic for the following dictionaries:
Lisān al-‘Arab of Ibn Manẓūr (d. 1311 CE); Maqāyyis al-lugha of Aḥmad ibn Fāris (d. 1004) ; al-Siḥāḥ fī al-lugha of Ismā‘īl ibn Ḥammād al-Jawharī (d. 1003); al-Qāmūs al-muḥīṭ of al-Fīrūzābādī (d. 1329); and, al-‘Ubāb al-zākhir of al-Ḥasan ibn Muḥammad al-Ṣaghānī (d. 1252).

• The Arabic website al-Ma‘ānī ( is an excellent source for Arabic definitions of Arabic terms.

• For Arabic to English, the original text of Edward Lane’s (1863) An Arabic-English Lexicon is available as an online pdf at It is also available as a download at and at

Arabic Dictionaries in PDF

• Al-Fayrūzābādī’s al-Qāmūs al-muḥīṭ is at
• Ibn Manẓūr’s Lisān al-‘Arab is at
• Al-Ṣaghānī’s al-Takmila wa-al-dhayl is at
• Al-Zabīdī’s massive Tāj al-‘arūs (Kuwaiti version) is at

• see also Dozy, R. (1881) Supplement aux Dictionnaires Arabes. Leiden Brill. at

Arabic/English, English/Arabic, etc.

• Baretto, Joseph (1804) A Dictionary of the Persian and Arabic Languages. Calcutta : S. Greenway, India Gazette Press. Vol. 2 at

• Johnson, Francis (1852) A Dictionary, Persian, Arabic and English. London: W.H. Allen. at

• Penrice, John (1873) A Dictionary and Glossary of the Kor-ân. London: Henry S. King. at

• Richardson, John (1810) A Vocabulary, Persian, Arabic, and English; abridged from the quarto edition of Richardson’s dictionary is at

• Steingass, Francis Joseph (1882) English-Arabic Dictionary: For the Use of Both Travellers and Students. London: W. H. Allen and Co. at

• Steingass, Francis Joseph (1884) The Student’s Arabic-English Dictionary. London: Crosby, Lockwood and Son at

• Wehr, Hans (1960) Arabic-English Dictionary is available as a pdf at

• Wortabet, William Thomson Arabic-English Dictionary is available as a pdf at

Arabic Dialect Dictionaries

• Ben Sedirah, Belkassam (1910) Petit dictionnaire arabe-français de la langue parlée en Algérie, contenant les mots et les formules employés dans les lettres et les actes judiciaires. Alger: Jourdan. at

• Biberstein-Kazimirski, Albert de (1860) Dictionnaire arabe-francais contenant toutes les racines de la langue arabe : leurs dérivés, tant dans l’idiome vulgaire que dans l’idiome littéral, ainsi que les dialectes d’Alger et de Maroc. Paris: Maisonneuve: Éditeurs pour les langues orientales, Européenes et comparées. at

• Cameron, Donald Andreas (1892) An Arabic-English vocabulary for the use of English students of modern Egyptian Arabic. London: Bernard Quaritch. at

• Crow, Francis Edward (1901) Arabic manual. A colloquial handbook in the Syrian dialect, for the use of visitors to Syria and Palestine, containing a simplified grammar, a comprehensive English and Arabic vocabulary and dialogues. London: Luzac and co.

• Hinds, Martin and el-Said Badawi (1986) A Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic is available as a pdf at

• Landberg, Carlo (1901) Études sur les dialectes de l’Arabie méridionale. I: Ḥaḍramoūt. Leiden: Brill. at

• Landberg, Carlo (1909) Études sur les dialectes de l’Arabie méridionale. Datina. Leiden: Brill.

• Nishio, Tetsuo (1992) A Basic Vocabulary of the Bedouin Arabic Dialect of the Jbāli tribe (Southern Sinai). Tokyo : Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa.

• Rhodokanakis, Nikolaus (1908) Der vulgärarabische Dialekt im Dofâr (Zfâr). Vienna: Alfred Hölder. at

Arabic Thesaurus

• Ibn Qutayba Adab al-kātib. Beirut: Mu’assisa al-Risāla. at

• Ibn Sīda, Al-Mukhaṣṣāṣ. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya. at

• Khuwārizmī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad (1866-1903) Liber Mafâtîh al-olûm: explicans vocabula technica scientiarum tam Arabum quam peregrinorum. Edited by G. Voten. Lugduni Batavorum: Brill. [in Arabic] at

Specialized Arabic Terms

•Al-Damīrī (1908) Ad-Damîrî’s Ḥayât al-Ḥayawān (A Zoological Lexicon). Translated by A. S. G. Jayakar. London: Luzac. Vol. 2, Part 1. at

• Al-Damīrī Ḥayāt al-ḥayawān ms. at

• Fleury, V and Muammad Souhlal (1915) L’arabe pratique et commercial à l’usage des établissements d’instruction et des commerçants, lecture, écriture, grammaire, syntaxe, exercices d’application, conversation, lexiques, dictionnaire commercial. Alger: Jourdan.

• Dozy, Renard (1845) Dictionnaire Détaillé des noms des vêtements chez les Arabes. Amsterdam: Jean Müller. at

• Fonahn, A. (1922) Arabic and Latin Anatomical Terminology. Kristiania: Jacob Dybwad. at

• Ibrāhīm, Rajab (2002) al-Mu‘jam al-‘Arabī li-asmā’ al-malābis. Cairo: Dār al-Mufāq. at

Mu‘jam muṣṭlaḥāt al-‘ulūm al-shar‘īyya. Saudi Arabia, 2017. Vol. 1 at

• Siddiqi, Abdussattar (1919) Studien über die Persischen Fremdwörter im klassischen Arabisch. Göttingen, Vandenhoeck. at

• Yāqūt, Mu‘jam al-buldan. at

Exploring Arabic Texts:

There are many more sources available at if you put “Arabic language” in the search bar. Important sources for links to pdfs of Arabic language texts include the following:

• Arabic Collections Online (NYU Aby Dhabi):
• Al-Madinah Inernational University Digital Library:
• al-Maktaba al-Shāmila:
• Mawqa‘ al-ḍīyā‘:
• al-Mostafa:
• Waqfeya:

• See the list of sites at


Pierre Cachia 1921-2017

Pierre Cachia slipped away peacefully on 1st April, a few days shy of his 96
th birthday, surrounded by his children and grandchildren. With the passing
of this key architect of Arabic studies who made modern Arabic literature a
serious academic subject in both the UK and US, those of us who have
studied and worked with him will not only mourn the loss of a friend,
teacher, and mentor, but also the irretrievable era in which a first
generation of post-War American and European Arabists and Orientalists made
tremendous strides in fashioning academic studies of modern Arabic
literature into what it is today: grounded in native fluency of the Arabic
language, informed by real experiences lived in close proximity with Arab
writers and storytellers, and took seriously the concerns and priorities of
Arab scholars, critics and intellectuals.

Born in Faiyum (Fayyum) on 30 April 1921 to Maltese father and Russian
mother, Pierre grew up in Upper Egypt. He successively attended French,
Italian, Egyptian and American schools before he enrolled at the American
University in Cairo, where he earned his BA degree. After war service with
the British 8th Army in North Africa, Italy and Austria, he moved to
Scotland. He received his doctorate at the University of Edinburgh in 1951
and joined its Faculty. He was appointed Professor of Arabic Language and
Literature at Columbia University in 1975 and would remain there until he
retired in 1991. However, he continued to teach and write, and in fact he
published many of his important works after retirement. He wrote scholarly
articles and books on a variety of subjects, translated classical and
modern literary and critical works, and published other scholars in *Journal
of Arabic Literature*, which he co-founded and on whose editorial board he
served for many years.


Onomasticon Arabicum (OA) is a long-living database project. This new online-version informs on more than 15000 scholars and celebrities from the first Muslim millenary. Its entries in Arabic are compiled from ancient biographical dictionaries, a veritable treasure of Islamic culture. Crossed search allows separate interrogation on any of the different elements of the Arabo-Muslim names, dates and places, reconstructing the identity of a person, trace ways of knowledge transmission and frame historical contexts.


In most world history survey courses, Arabia is introduced for the first time only as backstory to the rise of Islam. We’re told that there was a tradition of oral poetry in Arabic, a language native to central Arabia, and that the Qur’an was the zenith of this oral tradition. New evidence, however, suggests that Arabia was linguistically diverse, that the language we’ve come to know as Arabic originated in modern day Jordan, and that the looping cursive writing system that’s become the language’s hallmark wasn’t the original system used to write it. What to make of all this?

Guest Ahmad al-Jallad co-directs archaeological/epigraphic projects in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, uncovering new inscriptions thousands of years old, and shares his research that’s shedding new light on the writings of a complex civilization that lived in the Arabian peninsula for centuries before Islam arose.

Click here to hear the broadcast.


Scholars, Scribes, and Readers: An Advanced Course in Arabic Manuscript Studies6-10 June 2016, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge, UK

The Islamic Manuscript Association, in cooperation with Cambridge University Library and the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation, is pleased to announce an advanced short course in manuscript studies, entitled Scholars, Scribes, and Readers: An Advanced Course in Arabic Manuscript Studies, which will be held at Cambridge University Library from 6 to 10 June 2016.

This intensive five-day course is intended for researchers, librarians, curators, and anyone else working with Islamic manuscripts. As an advanced course, it is particularly aimed at those who already have some experience in Islamic codicology and palaeography and all participants must have a good reading knowledge of Arabic. The course will focus on Arabic-language manuscripts from various regions, including historical Turkey, Iran, and India. It is hoped that this advanced course will allow participants to gain greater exposure to and familiarity with the vast array of practices encountered in Arabic manuscripts.

The workshop will consist of three days of illustrated, interactive lectures on selected manuscripts and two days of hands-on sessions focusing on a selection of manuscripts from the Cambridge University Library collection. The manuscripts selected for presentation by the instructor cover the whole range of scribal practices encountered in a variety of subjects/genres, geographical regions, and historical periods (see the programme for details).



MENALib is a major resource for find e-texts, manuscripts, etc.

This Mountains of Central Asia Digital Dataset (MCADD) consists of a collection of books, journals and maps related broadly to the Himalayas and its outlying attached ranges including the Hindu Kush, the Karakorams, the Pamirs, the Tian Shan and the Kuen Lun as well as the Tibetan highlands and the Tarim basin. These materials are housed in this site, and are freely available for personal non-commercial use and downloading.

Some of this material was originally downloaded from the Google Books website, but often this material from Google has been augmented by the addition of maps and other oversize materials that were excluded when the original Google scans were done and/or the addition of missing pages. For example, the Google scans of the 50 volumes of the Royal Geographical Society Journal, published between 1830 and 1880 do not include any of the oversize maps—these maps have all now been scanned and some 450 maps added in their proper location to each of the journal volume pdf files on the PAHAR website.

Various aids to searching specific topics, such as indexes of articles related to the MCADD geographic area (Himalaya, Tibet and Central Asia) have also been prepared for the more prolific journals, such as those of the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Central Asian Society, and the Asiatic Society of Bengal. (more…)

The Library of Congress has a very nice website with online resources regarding its collection of Near Eastern materials.

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